Last week I run into Malawi’s longtime entertainment lord Jai Banda as he was applying last touches towards the UtsiTuluka Valentine concert which his Entertainers Promotions (EP) Company organised.
The old man still has music running in his veins. Though he stepped aside from the EP helm to pave way for his son Tonderai in taking the lead in as far as organising events under EP is concerned.
But even from a far, he is still someone who has his whole heart and soul in the happenings around. He still have plenty of ideas of what an ideal musical event ought to be like. He wants to remain the pacesetter in everything EP does. So he continues to snoop around as Tonderai is running errands on the ground.
As we talked about this and that, I took interest to ask how much he invests to bring out a show and if he is able to recap his investment at the end of the day. He did not respond but instead slipped some paper in my hands which lay on his table.
That small paper detailed the payments which he was due to make catering for the venue, performing artists, security and all other logistical fees towards the show. After I did my quick calculations based on the figures laid there I asked again: How much is the gate charges? Will you recover this sum?
He shock his said and he told me it is never possible: “The losses are always there. But if I can recover 80 percent then I am fine.”
I paused a bit. I wondered if he will ever say anything again but he never did. I searched for any sense of regret on his face but I got none. All I saw was someone who was powered by passion to do what he does.
The premise of this long analogy is one of the debates that has dominated talk in the entertainment circles this ending week. The impending coming of South African hip-hop hotshot and record producer AKA.
The artist will headline the official opening of Epic Exclusive Lounge in Lilongwe on February 27 in what has been dubbed AKA Platinum All White Party. The thing that has sent tails wagging are the gate charges for the event.
Ladies will be required to part with K150 000, men K180 000, couples K300 000 and the VIP section has been pegged at K200 000. These damages will include free top notch drinks which will be served the whole night, free buffet, free membership fee for three months and two sets of personalised glasses.
Going by the prescribed daily earning and spending power of an ordinary Malawian the fees are by no means exorbitant. And the murmurs that have followed are somewhat justified.
But wait a minute. Everything has its cost. The good things cost much higher than the ordinary ones. The package that the Epic Lounge management has offered is close or directly corresponding to what has been demanded in return.
Malawians have a tendency of demanding for good things which they are regrettably not ready to pay for. Event organisers are the most targeted and blamed. Every time someone brings an artist from outside they will find reason to despise that artist and show promoter.
They will rant that they have invited artists which are past their prime and all that. It is very possible to bring the hottest selling artists of the moment to Malawi but they attract no ordinary fee to bring them to our shores.
If one can dare bring the much desired artists and peg his show at a fee in line with what he spent, the people will cry wolf again. It is hard to please everyone out there so sometimes promoters just decide to do it their own way. But everything has its own price.
The Patience Namadingo/Billy Kaunda mashup attracted its share of debate too. I will not get into but I will just reproduce an opinion shared by media consultant and ardent music fan Horace Nyaka. Verbatim.
For some of us Balaka music was what kept us going in our early years of working class life. There were also others who were perhaps more exposed and found Balaka music “zachimidzi”.
Apart from Lucius Banda, other big names to come out of Balaka were Charles Sinetre, Charles Nsaku, Mlaka Maliro, Billy Kaunda and others. These were the big names in our local music 20 years ago.
I have listened to Namadingo and Billy’s mash-up. For those saying it’s bad I guess you never liked or followed Billy’s music. You won’t start liking his music today because Namadingo is involved. Some of you don’t even know one song by Billy.
Stay in your lane and let those who have enjoyed his music relive the good times.
Interesting thoughts indeed!n